The meeting went OK. Everybody survived, and I learnt a lot. If the Cyprus peace process continues to advance as we must all hope it will, we may have to consider the Turkish language sooner than some might think.
In the afternoon I went to the Committee of the Regions’ kick-off event for the European Week of Regions and Cities. President José-Manuel Barosso, Michel Barnier, Danuta Hubner and Luc Van den Brande were the speakers in the opening session, on the theme of ‘regions and cities in a challenging world.’ I jotted down a few of the choicer soundbites. ‘Nation states are too big for the small problems and too small for the big problems.’ (Barosso) ‘A united Europe not a uniform Europe.’ (Barnier) ‘You can’t have a good budget if you don’t have a good policy debate beforehand.’ (Barnier) ‘Dans l’économie réelle il y des entrepreneurs, pas des speculateurs.’ (Barnier) ‘Democratie raisonable.’ Luc Van den Brande. Danuta Hubner skilfully exploited a running joke after Barnier declared regional policy to be ‘the most beautiful of Europe’s policies.’ But the most touching thing for me was to see the genuine affection and fondness Barnier had for his old stamping ground and his former officials in DG REGIO. I thought once again of Mandelson’s abrupt departure. Apparently, he didn’t even have a change of shirt or underwear when he went across to London. It can’t have been easy.